Thursday, February 25, 2010

Episode 17: "Heat"

"Heat" is a "Cops-and-Robbers" masterpiece that pits Robert DeNiro's master thief Neil McCauley against Al Pacino's workaholic detective Vincent Hanna. McCauley takes scores, Pacino tries to catch him. McCauley's crew is brutally efficient and they act without hesitation. Hanna's group of detectives are always a step behind and seem to hold him back. McCauley and Hanna become intrigued by each other, developing a great respect for one another despite being on opposite sides of the law. It is a brilliant cat and mouse game that they play, each convinced it will be the other who finally makes a mistake.

"Heat" is (for me) the best film of the "Cops-and-Robbers" genre from the last 25 years, maybe ever, and one of my top 10 favorite movies. It is an amazing piece of work all around; acting, writing, direction, sound, everything is near perfect. "Heat" has an outstanding pedigree: written and directed by Michael Mann (one of the best in the business), starring DeNiro and Pacino (on screen together for the first time), support by Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, and a tremendous host of other "name" actors. Virtually every person who has a line in this movie is "someone," a recognizable face, which doesn't always pay off but works well here.

Mann's writing is great and his story is a rare example of a writer/director taking on a wide ranging plot that goes in any number of directions and pulling it all together in exquisite manner. Mann's work is methodical, deliberate, which can lend itself to a boring result if you don't have incredible dialogue with excellent action interspersed. And "Heat" has those things. The action is so realistic that apparently footage of the shootout between the thieves and the police has been used by Marine instructors to show their trainees how to counter attack an ambush. Meanwhile the dialogue throughout is excellent, but the diner scene in which DeNiro and Pacino first speak is FREAKING INCREDIBLE. One of the best scenes ever in the history of the cinema.

It has been 15 years since "Heat" debuted and it is a bit surreal to watch it and it's superstar cast knowing what we know now. This is pretty much the peak for DeNiro, Pacino, and Kilmer. Minus a role here and there, all three have struggled MIGHTILY since this movie came out. It's been so long since we've seen DeNiro or Pacino in a role that forces them to act. Here Pacino is at his crazy, out of control best as opposed to DeNiro's quiet, menacing best. It is straight up WEIRD to see them both actually trying and bringing their respective A games. The way they work off of each other is truly a treat to watch and everyone around them brings it up a notch to stay in the same area code as the two stars. It is a crime that "Heat" wasn't a nominee for Best Picture in a year when "Babe" was (really? "Babe?" Come on) and how Mann's work behind the camera wasn't recognized is beyond me. A+.

Best character: Robert DeNiro, Neil McCauley
Pacino is equally amazing but I've always been a DeNiro fan and it's incredible to see him work on a role he actually cares about.

Best scene: The diner scene
Again, this was the first time Pacino and DeNiro had ever been on the screen together. You've got two of, at the time, the top five actors in the business going toe to toe with each other. Each brilliant line is only bettered by each man's tone, mannerisms, and expressions.

Best line:
Vincent Hanna: "You know, we are sitting here, you and I, like a couple of regular fellas. You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do. And now that we've been face to face, if I'm there and I gotta put you away, I won't like it. But I tell you, if it's between you and some guy whose wife you're gonna turn into a widow, brother, you are going down."
Neil McCauley: "There is a flip side to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down? Cause no matter what, you will not get in my way. We've been face to face, yeah. But I will not hesitate. Not for a second."

Somebody please write DeNiro a great script,

"Heat" through Lindsey's eyes:

Before I begin, I apologize to Brian.  I have not kept up with my writing.  The lack of blogging is all my fault and I hope to make it up soon.

Now, to the important stuff, "Heat" was soooo long.  I can see why Brian likes the movie, but I do not like Cops and Robbers movies, so I did not like "Heat".  Since the day Brian began discussing this movie, I have been absolutely dreading it.  There were quite a few nights that we almost watched it, but he would say "Oh, we don't have enough time, it's already pretty late."  It would be like 8:30 and I totally freaked out.  It's not only a movie I'm not interested in, but it's LONG! 

So, the day finally came, and we had to watch it.  Do you want to know what I did while I appeared to be watching this movie?  Do you?! I'll tell you.  I choreographed a complete dance to Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation, in my head.  That's right folks, one whole dance crossed off my list.

Since I have so much trouble paying attention to a movie of this nature, I of course get completely confused.  I really don't remember anything, except Natalie Portman all slashed up.  When I wasn't choreographing, I was trying to figure out if the actor I was watching was Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro.  I've always failed at remembering the difference between those two actors.  Throw Andy Garcia in the mix and I'm REALLY confused.  Thank goodness Brian doesn't hate me too much when I ask him dumb questions while trying to identify one of the three actors.

We are a part of the Rhythm Nation,